They seem to now go hand in hand. With the Seafood Festival upon us, so is a live concert from the Swingin’ Medallions. With their contagiously danceable beach music and wildly energetic horn section, the Medallions will once again grace the main stage for the city’s big event. They will be headlining the first night of the festival with a 9 p.m. start on Friday.
Although membership in the band continues to change over the years, the popularity of their live performances have not. Robbie Cox, drummer for the band, sat down with us this week to reflect on the current state of the band and what is in store for us come Friday night.
RB: It seems to be now a solid tradition for the Swingin’ Medallions to play at the Seafood Festival. Is there a level of anticipation amongst the band for this particular occasion?
Robbie Cox: Absolutely. We love it that we’ve been invited back. This is our seventh or eighth year at the big Richmond Hill show. We even got the key to the city one year – that was pretty special.
We’re particularly excited about a special event we’re scheduled for. We’re going to come down early on Friday, before the general public comes into the park, and perform for some special needs kids. They’re going to ride some of the rides and then we’re going to do an acoustic set for them.
RB: That’s wonderful. Music is certainly a highlight of the Seafood Festival and we tip our hat to you guys for making that available to these kids. What inspired you to jump on board with that?
RC: We do a lot of charity work in our hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina – with the local hospice and Hamilton Cottage which is a home for special needs children. We’re helping to put on a prom event at the Hamilton later this year for about 300 kids. We love doing this kind of thing, so we’re excited to be able to extend some goodwill outside of our home base. I have an uncle with cerebral palsy, so these kids are near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen how much many of them enjoy music. We’re glad to do anything we can do to brighten their day a little bit.
RB: Let’s talk about your music. I guess it’s safe to say the Swingin' Medallions sound is perfect for a festival audience. It just seems to invite a lot of energy and certainly justifies the nickname “party band of the South”.
RC: Lewis Grizzard (Southern writer and humorist) coined that phrase for the band.
RB: Are you having as much fun on stage as it appears?
RC: As a matter of fact we are. We do a lot of festivals and play a lot of shows. You name the town or the festival and we’ve probably played it. We’re always on the road it seems.
RB: So this is a full-time job for all of you?
RC: This is what we do, and we love it. It’s almost ironic because many of the band members have degrees from UGA. I’ve got a psychology degree from Lander University. I receive more enjoyment from playing with the band and the freedom it gives us more than I think I ever could with a 9 to 5 job. It’s not for everybody; it’s certainly a different lifestyle than most and you’re away from home a lot.
RB: Do you ever take your spouses or children on tour with you?
RC: It’s just too hard of a schedule really. They’ll go on special occasions, but, for the most part, life on the road is simply driving from town to town and sound checks with no time for leisure.
RB: Let’s talk a little about the history of the band. Everyone seems to knows and love the big hits, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” and “Hey, Hey Baby”. Even though those songs were released long ago, the Medallions seem to have maintained a lot of that same momentum as we look at the band in 2007.
RC: “Double Shot” came out in ’62 and that’s when the band’s popularity really hit the mainstream. Even now, Bruce Springsteen plays “Double Shot” at a lot of his concerts. He called it “the greatest fraternity rock song of all time”. Throughout the seventies and even through today, a lot of the personnel in the band changed, but the whole idea and spirit of the band remains the same. In the band now, we have three sons of original members, and the rest of us have all kind of grown up together. Many of the originals, who have now retired, call us up and ask if they can come along for a show or two, so we never know who we’re going to have with us when we schedule a show. It’s like a big fraternity. The faces change, but it’s still the same.
RB: Is there any sign of slowing down? Will the Swingin’ Medallions be around for another generation?
RC: We enjoy doing it, so, as long as there’s a demand for it, I would expect the Medallions to be around for many years to come.